Tag Archive: books

It is summer time and your beach- read is not going to be some long-winded tome on butterflies, mosses, or goldfinches and the people who explore these topics.


Image from Chick Lit Plus

Image from Chick Lit Plus

Really, who wants to read five hundred pages when there is a wonderful breeze slipping past as the sun dances on the waves of the water? And that drink at your side might have a little extra kick in it.


I am ready for something light-weight and fun when Chick Lit Plus sent me a copy of Tax Cut by Michelle Lynn Seigfried.


This is Seigfried’s second novel featuring single-mom Chelsea Alton, a New Jersey municipal clerk who won a settlement against her former employer for unsafe working conditions. This has allowed her to stay home with her adorable 2-year-old girl. But the settlement is getting low and while being at home is great, Chelsea is starting to miss work.


When she gets a call from a friend alerting her to a job opening, well, she decides to jump on it. Mom and Dad are retired and willing to babysit the adorable granddaughter. Things progress at work but as Chelsea settles in, she begins to notice funny things. They are not connected until chips and pieces appear to fit  it all together with disappearing residents, ramblings of a woman with dementia, and bosses seen talking to people they shouldn’t be otherwise.


Then there is the subplot of the potential boyfriend. He is a single dad and a great kisser. But Chris cannot seem to make a relationship work from a perfectly willing woman who is crazy about him.


Image from Chick Lit Plus

Image from Chick Lit Plus

I found Tax Cut to be an interesting novel that is a perfect vacation read. Want a little time to yourself then go and hang out with Chelsea and her friend, Bonnie. Bonnie is everything a side kick needs to be; she is sassy, confident, and not without a few resources and connections. She works well with Chelsea whether it is in the office with a crude co-worker or checking out why a former employee left.


While the pacing could have been a little tighter, it did not stop me from enjoying the book. Plus, I am very familiar with the mom routines that show up so I felt as if I was someplace I already knew. When we finally get to the action, let me just say it goes very quick. But it is an end that satisfy, especially for those of you with a boss you hated.


Would I read it again? That is always my big question and the answer is yes. On those days when I am gifted with some time to myself, I am willing to hang out with Chelsea and Bonnie once more.


To Purchase Tax Cut (Jersey Shore Mystery Series #2):

 Amazon:  http://t.co/dZvYKmEy51

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tax-cut-michele-seigfried/1117789686?ean=9781494215330

To Purchase Red Tape (Jersey Shore Mystery Series #1):

Amazon:  http://t.co/asOvRiAD9J

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/red-tape-michele-seigfried/1115098453?ean=9781482012880

There are several services out there that allows one to get books, read them and review them. I personally subscribe to Booksneeze which sends one book at a time that I can review in a truthful and honest manner. If I hated the book, I am free to say so.

This time around I choose 7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas. I enjoy biographical stories and thought this grouping would be interesting.

Image from Goodreads.com

Image from Goodreads.com

Things did not go off to a good start as the author started down the road of what makes a good man in his forward. He pulled out the chestnut of how men  are being redefine and it is so difficult to know. This offends my sensibilities because being a good man should not be that difficult.

The men chosen are George Washington, William Wiberforce, Eric Liddell, Deitrich Bonhofer, Jackie Robinson, Chuck Colson and Pope John Paul 2.

Once I got into the stories of these men’s lives, the book became increasingly interesting. He details the simple things that make them great, the small actions that almost seemed to count more than the large actions. In Colson’s case, one could say he was a great man for his prison ministries. But Metaxas argues that it was his decision to repent that was the greatest action of his life.

The highest compliment I can give any book is to state if I would read it again. And I have to say I would because I thought these biographies were compelling and interesting. Once I find the book in my messy stack again, I would like to re-read the portion about Wilberforce and his fight against the slave trade or Washington’s speech that made people love him.

Now you may notice that the title says “Giveaway” in it. And the truth is I will send out this book to someone who says they want it. But first you have to place in the comment section the names of a man who has achieved a level of greatness in your eyes. I will make a random selection from there and contact the winner. But you have to hurry. You have only until June 28th to name your man of greatness. Good luck!

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

The last day of school this year, was especially emotional and poignant.

It wasn’t because I have a child graduating or making some great leap on the road map of life.


Picture by Clarita

Picture by Clarita

What brought me to tears was the special ceremony honoring Mrs. Pat Farman, trusty librarian at the grade school, as she went through her last days before retirement.

I had the good luck of being a volunteer with Mrs Farman in the library and with a few book fairs. Our conversations centered on books and, well, they were exciting enough to not have to go much farther. We talked about the Young Adult genre a lot because that is one area we both read a lot. We never got into the “who is a better writer – Austen or Bronte” conversation which is probably a good thing.

Now some of you who have not been in a library for a few years might wonder why I would celebrate a librarian besides the fact that I am a book nut. I celebrate librarians because they are some of the bravest people I know.


Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

Librarians across the country fought for our rights to privacy when the Patriot’s Act tried to take too many away. And when it comes to standing up for books that others try to ban, well, thank a librarian that you can get a copy of To Kill A Mockingbird or Huck Finn or Where’s Waldo. All of these books were on lists to be banned and librarians fought them down.

Maybe that is not the kind of bravery you were thinking of, was it? Not every librarian can be like Noah Wylie in The Librarian movie series that showed up on the TNT network. Granted, how many librarians do you know get to chase after a historic relic with a martial arts expert on their side.

Maybe not all librarians look like Rachel Weisz in The Mummy and get to fall in love with Brendan Fraser while trying to figure out how to get a mummy back into his resting place.


Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz in The Mummy, Image from IMDb.com

Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz in The Mummy, Image from IMDb.com

Perhaps the most memorable librarian is Marian played by Shirley Jones in The Music Man. She learns to trust and love a man who is a con-artist. His plan usually consists of collecting money for band uniforms and instruments. Before anything arrives or has even been ordered, Harold Hill takes off with the money but this time it might turn out differently.

Oh, librarians might seem ordinary, maybe even useless. But they help those of us coming into a library discover new books, new worlds, new information. A library without a librarian is a like a hollow book; it looks good but you need the inside scoop for guidance, direction, to find one that best suits your needs. A good librarian, such as Mrs. Farman, does just that with love and enthusiasm. And that is what kids need in order to foster a love for reading and learning.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Argh!  Today has been one of those days.

Did I mean to have this review done and ready to go yesterday? Yes, I did.

Did I mean for it to be posted and not have Samantha worry that one of her bloggers was failing or flailing? Yes, I did.

Unfortunately, life and family got in the way. Baseball games, dog training,  and the need to be out of the house during this awful period of unemployment got in the way.

While my son’s team lost last night in a complete blowout, I can tell you almost every time he was at bat Sam hit the ball and managed to get on base.

I can tell you that the picture for my mother’s Mother’s Day gift is ready and the frame needs a little adjustment. I can tell you I bought a nice red dress shirt for my son’s concert in two days and that I found a cute top for my daughter on her birthday next week. And I finally bought the needed Plumber’s goop for under the kitchen sink.

Those are all stories for another time.

Image from Chick Lit Plus

Image from Chick Lit Plus

Today we are talking about Cookies For Dinner  by Pam Johnson-Bennett and Kae Allen.

This collection of essays follow the very different paths to motherhood Pam and Kae took, as well as their philosophies.

That might explain why the germophobe had a cockroach wave at her or the usually punctual mom found herself getting late to class as her pregnancy wore on.

Life, pregnancy, and child rearing is seldom what you will expect it to be; there is no such thing as perfection.

Which may be the reason I found myself laughing at the cockroach story and the measles story and one of the potty training stories.

I like this book for being easy to pick up and put down. Some days, the only time I had to read even one essay was at bedtime before I passed out. But during that time, I would read one complete story. It gave me time to reflect on the story and chuckle to myself.

I understood the one about trying to get through a store without a dreaded tantrum but still buying your stuff because, yep, I did that. Child had a tantrum and I refused to give in. We have all done some of the things in this book and it is reassuring to know that sometimes, some days, we fail. But then the next morning comes and we try again.

Now the stories that might have you tearing up are the ones Pam tells about adopting her two children.  When you need comic relief, Kae jumps in with a tale of hosing off her child’d car seat in the front yard after an explosive poop. Did I mention the child was still in the seat?

Pam and Kae: Image from Chick Lit Plus

Pam and Kae: Image from Chick Lit Plus

Oh, you can sit there and pretend you have never done any of this or thought about it. Truth is, too many parenting books are pompuss and filled with inane advice. I put down one book because the author’s forward was a hot air explanation of what we do wrong as parents from the perspective of someone who may have never had a kid.

That I do not need. Instead, I want to read stories of real people who have been there, done that, and can tell a damn funny story after the storm clouds have settled down. These two moms have that down. If there is no other reason to read the book, then listening to their stories about parenting in the worst of times and in the best of times is one of the few things you will actually wish to do again.

Especially the one about the waving cockroach because it is both touching and funny.


Want to find the book? Connect with Pam & Kae!

Facebook link: http://www.facebook.com/twoloonsandabook

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/2loonsandabook

Our website: http://www.twoloonsandabook
Buy the Book!


Welcome to those on the CLP blog tour of Unexpecting by Lori Verni-Fogarsi.

After the review stay a while and find a great easy recipe for supper or walk through my garden to see what is blooming this month. As for the regulars who come all of the time, you know where the tea cups are stored. Find your favorite and let’s get into this book.

Image from Chick Lit Plus

Image from Chick Lit Plus

So, some of us knows what it feels like to finally have kids out of the house or just about out of the house. You plan a great vacation for just you and the spouse. You buy a white couch. And you count down the days until that moment of peace with kids out of the house.

That is until a child shows up with no place to go, claiming to belong to your spouse. She comes along with a big drooling dog and a pregnant belly a month away from delivery.

Holy mid-life crisis not of your making.

Well, that is exactly what happens to Shelley and David who are both on their second marriage. They have been married about 10 years, raising their combined family of 4 children, the last of whom is a senior in high school.

But with Alexandra’s arrival, the finish line suddenly disappears. While she is a senior in high school, she is no where near being ready to handle the huge responsibilities that await her. Worse yet, she will drag the family through trauma they never expected.

The situation feels very real as this family goes through highs and lows from dealing with Alexandra’s issues as well as other family members who are trying to find their way. In that way, I appreciated the book for being real and honest, for not just focusing on Alexandra and what her inclusion does to the family.

Image from CLP

Image from CLP

The other part I like was how the parents dealt – or didn’t – with the problems brought on by Alexandra. A marriage gets rocked and both sides have to figure out what is most important to them.

So here is the long of the short – would I read it again? I think the answer is yes because I like Shelley to certain extent and I feel for her in a problem that was not her making.

Shelley did not ask for Alexandra’s mother to die, she did not expect David to do some of the things he did. Nor did she expect to have to be the tough guy.  She and David have a great marriage but when the going gets rough, suddenly he is acting like a dofus, forgetting how she has been there for him through the years.

Perhaps that is what bothered me the most, characters getting a little out of character. Some of the characters went in directions that seemed totally out of their normal routines. And yet, does that not happen to all of us when life throws a curve ball? We act a little crazy and reject those around us? That I can understand while not liking it one bit.

What perplexed me the most was the emotional buffer in this book that I or the characters could never break through. I could see their pain but never touch it. Alexandra – with all of her teenage drama and justifiable but unnerving angst – may have been the truest character.

In the end, the journey was worth the ride. We watched a couple make the next steps towards redefining their lives as well as slowly accepting a new person into their lives. Life, as it turns out, is never really all that boring.

Lori Verni-Fogarsi has been an author, speaker, and small business consultant since 1995. She has been featured in major media including Lifetime Women’s Network, the My Carolina Today Show, and Boston Globe Forums Live.

 Her public speaking has occurred at many prestigious venues including North Carolina State University, Nassau Community College, and many more.

She has received two awards for her novel, Momnesia, and her nonfiction, Everything You Need to Know About House Training Puppies and Adult Dogscontinues to be one of the most highly recommended in its genre since 2005.

 Lori is a happy married mom of two, step mom of two more, and has two cats, both rotten. Originally a native New Yorker, she now divides her time between Raleigh, NC, and Lake Gaston, VA.

She is very excited about the release of  Unexpecting, and looks forward to her book tour, interviews, launch parties, and other festivities!

Family Movie Night


By Karyn Bowman


When I think of poetry, I often marvel at the way older people still remember passages that they had to memorize during the school days.


I studied many works, traveled through Dante, Plutarch, and, of course, Shakespeare. But I have retained little of it.


I might remember a line from Byron, the opening line from Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and the awful ‘tree’ poem. I can recite some biblical verses because they are rhymed or have a nice flair to them.


My favorite will always be “I am a stranger in a strange land” stated by Moses when he arrives in Midian.


Some poets like to be purposefully obscure in their writings while others lay out their feelings so that they reader can easily pick up on the emotions and physical scene surrounding the writer. Sometimes that comma that might seem like a distraction was actually purposely placed to make us slow down and feel the heart ache of the writer.


Image from thefamouspeople.com

Image from thefamouspeople.com

One of my favorite poets is e.e. cummings who turned phrases inside out while ignoring all rules of punctuation. I am not always sure what he is saying but it sounds lovely as he tries to find new ways to describe how he feels about his love.


No one, not even the rain, has such small hands.


I first heard this line in a Woody Allen movie, Hannah and Her Sisters. The movie is about three sisters who are at different stages of life. The incredibly capable Mia Farrow believes she is happily married to Michael Caine. Barbra Hershey is living with a man who does not want any children. Actress and caterer Diane Weist is searching for something. And Mia’s ex-husband, Allen, is flitting around in the belief he is dying from something.


Poetry is used to seduce one sister, death knocks at the door and changes it mind while true love blossoms unexpectedly. Set in the upper middle class of NYC, it is a movie about the bond of sisters, the ability to forgive, and the fear of moving on.


While this movie came out in 1987, I find very few movies use poetry unless it is a historical movie. After all, nothing sets a historical scene like a good epic poem. One movie that I remember from recent years takes an old rhyme about a treasonous group.


Remember, Remember the Fifth of November, The Gunpowder Treason and Plot

II know of no reason, why the Gunpowder Treason, should ever be forgot.


Poster Image from IMDb.com

Poster Image from IMDb.com

In V for Vendetta, England is now ruled by a man who looks and acts like Hitler. Anyone who defies him or stands against him disappears and will eventually be put to death. The small group of rebels disappear, are tortured, and killed. While all of this goes on, there is one man who is willing to get the revenge while we learn his story and that of the young woman he chooses as a partner after saving her from the secret police.


It is a movie that talks about the price of freedom, moving poetry and culture into the mix so that it is almost natural. And let’s not forget the spectacular explosion at the end of the movie. Are either of these movies family friendly? Well, they are if you have teenagers but the smaller members might have to be satisfied with a Dr. Suess movie.


Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.


Sometimes friends pass a book along your way and you don’t read it.

There are many reasons, I suppose.

You think it is not your style, not within your favorite genre. You don’t like the cover, don’t like the author, don’t want to hear the message. You are too busy doing this that and the other.

Image from Wikipedia

Image from Wikipedia

Any of these reasons could have applied when one of my friends handed me Heaven is For Real. I thought it was going to be packed with Christian gobbley-gook that I was not interested in hearing or reading.

That is until six months later when I made the effort to READ the book.

I was having one of ‘those’ days in which every plan I made was being re-routed.

The youngest declared he was sick with a sore throat and a slight fever. So then my morning was going to be spent in the doctor’s office. I had cleaned out this book from my bedside stash and decided to read it before giving it back to my friend.

After the son threw up not once but several times in the lobby before even seeing the doctor, I sat in the waiting room and started reading. Soon I was several chapters through and we were called in for a weighing. Then we were shuffled off to a patient room.

Sam curled up in a chair and slept some more while I continued reading. Once we were seen by the doc and sent on our merry way with a phoned-in prescription  I read the book while in the drive-through line at the pharmacy.

Later that day, when I sort-of caught up on all of the things that needed to be done, I finished reading the book.

The story is about a 3-year-old boy who suffers through a burst appendix – that doctors miss at first – and nearly dies. But he doesn’t. Somehow through the power of prayer and God’s mercy this boy lives. But as the months pass by, he begins to talk about his experiences during that time.

He talks about singing angels, about Heaven, jewels, gates, God, and Jesus.

The boy talks about what they look like, what the angels are willing to sing, the people he sees and the places he goes. None of this happens right away and the parents are careful to not ask any leading questions. But it is a fascinating read as a parent struggles with his faith during the worst of times and then sees the fruit of his faith.

One question that comes up time and time again is what does Jesus look like? They boy and his family saw many pictures of Jesus and with nearly each one the boy said it was wrong. That is until the parents began sharing their story with others in public settings. That is when someone passes on a link of a story about another child who claims to have seen Jesus.

Image from Tumblr

Image from Tumblr

But this little girl drew a picture when she was 8-years-old. It is an incredible picture and not just because of the subject. It is a beautifully done portrait of a man who could have been done by a person twice her age.

The detail of the picture in the beard and the cloth is incredible.

Now being the blasphemous that I am, the first thought in my mind was “Jesus looks like Kenny Loggins?”

That is until I was drawn in by the eyes. Green eyes do that to me. While one conversation at my sunday school has been about what was it about Jesus that made people follow him, I look at a picture like this and know that there was immediate trust.

In those eyes, there is a steadiness that comforts and calms. He is a mix of European and Middle East. And that nose, so straight, almost Aquiline.

I could fall in love with this picture.

Now, would I recommend this book to you?

Yes, I would if you are a Christian. If you are not a Christian, I would ask that you give the book a chance. Read it, ruminate on it, shift through chapters. In the end, you may believe more or believe less.

But I guarantee it will make you think about Heaven and if you are going there.








Book cover image from kobobooks.com

Book cover image from kobobooks.com

Christopher Benson has a fertile imagination. And in this imagination he knew that vampires were not the cuddly creatures they were being turned into by various novels, films, and tv shows.  So Benson created a series about vampires that holds nothing back about his vision of the vampire world.

This month, Author House releases his third book in the Vampire 2000 series in which our protagonist must put an end to a creature he created out of grief and anger.

Take a few minutes to stick around as Benson takes the time to answer a few questions about his writing process and his main character, Cornelius.


1. Vampyre 2000 is a complex and fascinating read. How did you come up with the story?

Vampyre 2000 (pronounced “vawm-peer”) was really a compilation of ideas that I had kept in my head and in a writing journal for years. I had read vampire novels, watched vampire movies and even seen them on television. In all those instances, it left me feeling that if I would’ve written the story I would’ve done it differently. So I finally decided to write one and do it my way.

2. Tell us more about the world you have created.

I tried to create a world that mirrored our own. One where most people are completely oblivious to the dark realities that are hidden within it. Although it is a fantasy world and I had the liberty to make its environment any way that I needed to fit my needs, it is based on an actual metropolitan city in America; The Bay Area. Since no one in their right mind would truly believe that vampires actually exist, the original working title of the book was
“You Wouldn’t Believe Me if I Told You”.

3. Before you began writing, you kept a journal. How did that help you create such a captivating world? Can you tell us a little more about your process?
In the beginning, that journal was the single most important tool for writing this story. Whenever I had an idea, anything at all, I wanted to record it there. I would throw out the weaker ideas and focus on the stronger ones. When I finally began to write Book One, the characters of Rita and Cornelius had already been developed as well as his unique origin. I kept ideas in that journal for three and a half years, without it I’m quite sure that some of those ideas might never have made the books.

4. How is this book different from other vampire books out there?
There are many things. It’s adult in nature without being overly explicit or excessively vulgar. It is based on a real world, one that the reader will have no difficulty in relating to. V2K contains a great deal of realism; for instance, the way in which the vampires feed is written with a lot of detail. But I think the biggest difference is the treatment of the vampire. Subtle things, as well as his origin, separate Cornelius from every other vampire out there.

5. How did your background as a history major play into the story? What research did you have to do?
It helped me to keep everything in context while writing this story. Even though this is a fictional story, I wanted the reader to feel that the book was taking place in our world. I did this by showing that Cornelius’ world shared the same history with our own; that they were one and the same. I researched West African vampire legend, used an actual slave ship that was prosecuted in 1807 for illegal slave trading, mentioned the events that led up to The Civil War and one of its actual battles.
6. Your goal in writing this book was to make modern day vampires seem realistic. What are some of the ways that you accomplished this?
I wanted to establish the theme of realism immediately with Cornelius’ origin. I wanted his back story to be believable and not come across as magical or fantastic. Another way was to define how a modern vampire would live and the extraordinary abilities that one would have. In my story vampires do not turn into bats or clouds of mist. They lie in their true state, a corpse, during the day and they need to drink human blood for survival. Although they are superior to a normal man they are also extremely vulnerable. A stake through the heart, beheadings and especially fire are some traditional ways to kill my vampires. As a matter of fact, since Cornelius does not hold a job, own a car, have a driver’s license or pay for car insurance, he uses the subway and takes the bus. And the money that he uses to clothe himself and do the things that he needs comes from the victims that he preys upon.

Author picture courtesy of PR By The Book

Author picture courtesy of PR By The Book

7. Cornelius is a complex hero. Did anyone from your life inspire him? And how did you balance his good qualities with his negative qualities?

Many people have claimed that Cornelius is more than a simple extension of myself. I’m still thinking about that, but the readers must remember that even though he has become such a likable character he is still a vampire. Whether he wants to or not, he must violently end the lives of innocent people in order for him to survive. Even though he is the perfect killing machine, Cornelius has retained his early nineteenth century morals and ideals as well as much of its dialect. Somehow he has been able to maintain a high level of dignity and sophistication throughout the dark and violent life that he has led; a
life that he never wanted and never asked for. Being a good man at heart, he has always regretted and had great remorse for what he has had to do.

How did your childhood fascination with fantasy play a role in creating the books?

It taught that me that there was no limit to my imagination. My imagination is vast and probably infinite. Fantasy and Science Fiction books showed me that if I can picture it in my mind that I can write about it.

What author would you say had the greatest impact on your style?

Hmm, that’s a tough one. At first I wanted to say John Milton and then I thought about William Shakespeare. Both of them were responsible for cultivating my love of the classics. But I can’t forget about H.G. Wells either.

10. What is it about love that can be so redeeming in characters like Cornelius?

Love can make people do things that they wouldn’t normally have done. It opens their eyes to what is important and shows them a path through the wilderness. Love has the power to take hold of the deepest recluse or a violent killer and give their life something worth living for. It provides purpose to those who had none.

11. Where can we learn more about your books? 

 Visit the V2K website at: http://www.vampyre2000.com

12. Do you have anything else in the works?

I do, a story titled “OS”. It’s a Science Fiction story set twenty five years into our future. It is a harsh and bleak world where man is forced to ask him self a frightening question. Should the activity inside of a computer chip be recognized as another form of life?

Blog Tour – Love At 11 by Mari Mancusi

Today is a special day at Rumbly Cottage. Let me welcome all first time visitors and returning guests to the second stop of a Chick Lit Plus blog tour featuring Mari Mancusi, author of the new Chick Lit novel Love at 11. 

Image from Chick Lit Plus

Image from Chick Lit Plus

The story focuses on 27-year-old Maddie, a producer at a local TV station. Life is plodding along as she tries to develop a clip file that will allow her to move on to serious television news magazine.

In the meantime, she gets a little promotion and a new camera man – the ultra hunky, Jamie. They both like 80s pop culture and have the same wicked sense of humor. They would be perfect for each other if it wasn’t for his fiancée. If that isn’t bad enough, Maddie’s parents’ marriage is breaking up, and her 16-year-old sister is a bit a hellion.

Then Maddie gets a hot tip regarding tunnels on the other side of the border while shopping for fake Prada in Tijuana. Things are about to get interesting for our heroine who has been bored and plagued by bad story ideas for too long.

So that is the teaser to this fun book. Let’s take a few minutes to sit in the dining room and chat. You might be disturbed by the sounds of the violent video game my son is playing in the living room but ignore that.  This is, after all, a house that can be a bit noisy on a regular basis. Oh, and don’t worry about the dog. He only gets super friendly when he wants to steal snack food.

Instead, pay attention to the interview we have with author Mari Mancusi.  First, take a quick look at her bio.

     Mari Mancusi is a multiple Emmy award-winning television producer and

     author of novels for adults and teens, including the Blood Coven  series and

     Gamer Girl. She’s worked at television stations in New York, Boston, San

      Diego, and Orlando and is a graduate of Boston University’s College of

      Communications. When not writing or producing, she enjoys traveling,

      cooking, 80s music, and her favorite guilty pleasure—videogames. She lives

       in Austin, Texas with her husband, Jacob, and their daughter, Avalon. 

Now on to the questions and answers.

Image from Chick Lit Plus

Image from Chick Lit Plus

You have been writing Young Adult novels for some time, how hard was it to make the transition to writing a novel for adults?

I actually started my career writing chick lit time travel novels for an adult audience, so Love at 11 was a return to my roots, so to speak. And this particular book’s subject matter was so close to my heart, I guess I was just writing for me. Perhaps that’s the biggest key—to write the book your own self would want to read. When I write teen books – I consider the old high school “me” and when I write adult books, I think about the “me” now and write accordingly.

There is nothing supernatural in this book. Was that element ever in the plans for this novel? 

Nope! The story came about on a day I was assigned the “cosmetics that kill” story at my Boston station. I was so fed up and frustrated—it just came pouring out of me.

How tempting was it to make the little sister’s story the focus of this book?

Lulu’s story just kind of took on a life of its own as I was writing the book. It’s perhaps the one part of the book that’s not at least semi-autobiographical. I would love to do a spin-off about her someday. She’s troubled—very troubled—but she has a big heart.

You worked as a producer in television? Was your life goal similar to Maddy’s to work at a high profile news magazine?

Yes, I was determined at one point to work at Dateline. I thought it would be the ultimate dream job. I did end up going to work at a nationally syndicated television magazine show, but it was a morning show, so much lighter in content. Still, it was pretty great to be out and about in NYC interviewing celebs, fashion designers, chefs, etc. The problem with working for a show like Dateline, however, is you have to be willing to dedicate your entire life to your career. Now that I’m a mom I have other priorities and like the fact I can work from home as an author.


Besides the romance, your story focuses on a professional trying to create meaningful work at her TV station. Do you think that is a pertinent topic for 20 somethings who have been at their workplace for some years?

Absolutely. I think now, more than ever, twenty-somethings are looking for satisfaction and personal fulfillment in the workplace. They don’t just want a 9-5 that provides a paycheck. They want to make a difference or be creative or impact something. And that can be hard to do and extremely frustrating when you’re first starting out and have no power. I remember having this burning desire to do more and be pushed down by my bosses time and time again.

The lead anchor makes an interesting commentary towards the end of the book, leading Maddy to understand and respect him more. In your experience, is this true for many anchors?

Very true. In our current society, anchors like the legendary Edward R Murrow would never be hired and TV news is always looking for the next pretty face. I actually see this more in female anchors and reporters who are considered “old” once they hit thirty, but I used a male anchor in the book because I wanted to shake up the stereotype a bit. But definitely—talent takes a back seat to a svelte figure and pretty face.

You are located in Texas but the book is set in San Diego. How much research did you do to understand where Maddy and her friend might go for fun? To know where Jaime and Maddy would go to find the drug cave or to happen on the Rave?

Ha! I lived in San Diego for three years, working in TV news when I was Maddy’s age. So I knew all the cool hangouts and local culture already. (And even attended a desert rave or two.) The drug tunnels are something I plucked from the headlines—they really exist! And I spent a ton of time drinking margaritas and shopping for fake purses in Tijuana. Who knew it was all research for a book! That said, the TV station I worked for in San Diego was nothing like News 9. They were actually pretty respectable. It was more the station I worked in later, in Boston, that inspired most of the ridiculous stories mentioned in the book.

How is it that Maddy is familiar with music and movies from the 80s?

Her parents showed her Pretty in Pink when she was a kid and it all spiraled from there!

Could Jaime be any more perfect as guy? Does he have a flaw besides having ‘farewell sex’ when he breaks up with a girlfriend?

I think what Jamie most lacks is self-confidence in himself. He’s failed a lot – being a filmmaker in LA to being reduced to a videographer for the local news. Not to mention his failed sci-fi novel. And I think that’s affected how he looks at himself and the world. He also is so nice he gets himself stuck in situations he might not be happy about. He knows he and his fiancé just aren’t working—but it’s difficult for him to make the break and go after what he really wants in life.


Image by M. Conners

Image by M. Conners

Thanks, Mari, for stopping by and chatting with at the cottage. Don’t worry about the dishes and cups; I will clean everything up.

Connect with Mari!

Website: www.marimancusi.com

Blog: www.marimancusi.blogspot.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bloodcovenvampires

Twitter: @marimancusi

Buy the Book!

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Love-At-11-ebook/dp/B007NN0GI8/ref=sr_1_12?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1334855810&sr=1-12

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-at-11-mari-mancusi/1109679094?ean=2940014264341

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Love-At-11/book-N-SW0a3HtEOeUxMR8fdN7A/page1.html?s=E99OQtfeA0qBDuNWck0Gtg&r=1

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/love-at-11/id513453767?mt=11

Belated Birthday Wishes

Dear Jane,

Please accept my belated birthday wishes to you. I meant to get this letter out much sooner but you know how it goes with a busy family.

I hope you were able to celebrate in high style. A trip to London, high tea, a night at the theater, perhaps a stroll in the public gardens; these are great activities in my eyes. My birthday is in a few weeks, as you well know, and I have no idea how we will celebrate that event.

Jane AustenI have been thinking of you lately as I work on my first novel. I try to write 500 words a day and right now I am at Chapter 8 of 15. But recently, I looked back at Chapter 2 in order to present it to my writing group. I have not sent anything in for a while despite making real progress on the book. While going over the pages to take out any passive verbiage and tighten it all up, I realized that most of this chapter is terrible.

More truthfully, it sucks.

I am now considering re-writing it or ditching the chapter all together. It does not seem to fit or make sense with the rest of the novel that I have written. I think that I have not introduced the problem soon enough. Worse yet, I no longer love my heroine.

Did that ever happen to you? Elizabeth is so lively and charming that I would find it hard not to love her. Elinor, on the other hand, I can imagine getting a bit weary despite her wonderful qualities. Then again, she was a poor woman in Regency England who had known a better life. Her sadness at the loss of her father and potential husband must have been great.

Since working on this novel, I notice how I read a book has changed. I no longer simply enjoy the prose. I am paying attention to how characters are introduced. I listen to how different characters speak. I look at when the problem becomes a problem. The dead body does not always seem to show up by the end of Chapter One but one issue or another is presented that eventually leads us there.

I do no enjoy reading novels any less. I recently finished Kipling’s Captain Courageous and enjoyed the transformation of the rich boy saved by a fishing boat crew. Right now I am re-reading Jane Goes Batty by Michael Thomas Ford in which you are a vampire.  I am discovering little things I did not notice before and quite enjoying it, which is the whole reason why I re-read books. Sometimes in my rush to read a book, I miss details.

Book Cover Image from Amazon.com

Book Cover Image from Amazon.com

One book that has been quite difficult for me to get through is Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. I know her writing is wonderful and I enjoy the descriptions. I know the book was ground breaking for talking about mental illness – battle fatigue in particular – and making that character sympathetic as opposed to a maniacal fool.

It is the stream-of-consciousness style of writing that gives me a headache and I have to put the book down after a page or two. The jump between characters happens so quickly that I am not always so sure who is speaking. I hope that the book I am writing does not give others headaches should I ever finish writing it.

I appreciate any words of wisdom you can send me in this matter. And please let me know about your birthday celebration; I want all of the juicy details.

As always, your devoted friend, etc.

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